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Thursday, 26 May 2016

Classic Rant: I Am The Absolute Authority

"We Must Run The Rules As Written", My Ass.

I'm quite willing to houserule the fuck out of any game. I think that those who claim "a game SHOULD be perfect right out of the box so as to make houserules unnecessary" are mostly covering up the fact that they're petit-fascists that don't like the idea of the GM being able to invalidate the string of feats they worked out that are "within the rules" to give their PC 100 points of damage reduction, or whatever. "We have to play with the Rules as Written!" is the cry of the rules lawyer and the reverse-cheater (one who cheats by abusing the letter of the rules).

Furthermore, there are all kinds of games pre-RPGs that are houseruled. Hardly anyone plays Monopoly absolutely straight. Poker has 20 million fucking variants (including the utterly despicable "Texas Hold'em") because people houseruled the fuck out of it.

And consider this: many RPG companies release Errata and/or new editions. What is that, if not the game designer saying "rule x is flawed or not ideal, I've got this houserule for it"? The mere fact that he wrote the game doesn't make him any more competent than me, nor the fact that he's a game designer (so am I, but the case stands even if the theoretical GM in question was not). In fact, since he's the one who fucked up in the first place, I'd say that puts him lower on the scale of people qualified to fix the mess. And its even worse if instead of the designer, its just "someone from the company"; now you're trying to tell me that for some reason some random dick, possibly even some suit who has never actually written or maybe even played an RPG in his fucking life, is somehow more qualified to make up a new rule for a game than I am, just because he has the little "official employee of Wizards of The Coast" sticker on his chest? The Hasbro Exec's retarded nephew Cletus, who got the job because his parents went to Uncle Joe for help to find Cletus something to do other than stealing hub-caps, somehow magically gets to houserule but I don't?

Fuck that.
Fuck you.

I am the absolute authority. The game rules are there as rules for the players UNTIL I SAY OTHERWISE. But to me? They only exist as suggestions. I can change them as I so will it; add my own genius to them, or destroy any part of them with but a snap of my fingers. 


Currently Smoking: Neerup Billiard + Image Latakia

(Originally posted December 17, 2010)

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

My Video Interview with Rol Salvaje (in Spanish)

Edited:  The interview is now complete, and here it is:


Currently Smoking:  Ashton Old Church Rhodesian + C&D's Crowley's Best

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Tomorrow I'm Being Interviewed Live!

Check it out: Wednesday, 10pm Spain Time, I'm being interviewed by the top Spanish video channel on RPGs: Rol Salvage!

It turns out that I'm pretty popular in Spain, certainly among game designers.  My reviews of Spanish RPGs like Puerta De Ishtar and Walkure highlighted how Spain is probably the most exciting European scene for RPGs around right now, and helped to get translation deals for several RPGs.   Old School is pretty popular over there thanks to games like Marca Del Este, so there have been a few social media threads expressing excitement at my coming interview. Which is the first interview I've ever given live.

And YOU will be able check out the interview live (a link will be generated when we start the interview) on the Rol Salvage channel.   Mind you, in case I didn't make it clear, the whole interview will be in Spanish. So if you're an English-speaking Pundit fan, you're just shit out of luck.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Egg + Brebbia No.8

Monday, 23 May 2016

Why #NotAtMyTable is Not About Bullying

The instigators of #NotAtMyTable are claim that they're all about stopping 'bullies' and 'abusers' in the RPG hobby. Of course, we all know that's a lie. All they give a fuck about is their little group manipulating people's sense of fundamental discipline to be able to get power over the hobby, in order to enact censorship and blacklisting.  We know this because they've done it dozens of times before now; it's so endemic that I can link you to an earlier blog post of mine about a totally different "outrage" in the hobby and you'll see how it applies in exactly the same way; once again, Totalitarians are trying to use emotional appeals to the mushy middle's sense of decency against them, to take control.

One of the things they claim is that they want RPGs to be 'safe' from sexually suggestive or 'triggering' games. Now let's assess how this is absolute bullshit and what they really want is to use claims of sexism (or racism, or homophobia) to go after games they don't like.

I mean, it should be as simple as asking: "which of the sides in the controversy are have significant numbers in favor of censorship"? That should be enough. But let's say you want some more proof that they're not just totalitarians, but HYPOCRITICAL totalitarians....

The proof is in the Maid RPG.

Maid is a game where you can literally play a preteen slave/maid dressed in a completely transparent uniform, who is sexually pursued by her master and is identified as a 'lolita'.  And this isn't 'can' as in theoretically in some weird stretch the way you could theoretically do something like that in, say, Call of Cthulhu (weird as that would be).  This is 'can' as in "It is explicitly used in the book"!

If the game had been written by, say, James Desborough, they'd be calling for his arrest. Feminists all across the hobby would be demanding that he and anyone ever remotely associated with him be banned for life from producing RPGs ever again. There'd be demands that we censor the entire RPG hobby. There'd be people going to the UN. There'd be fainting-couch outrage like you've never seen before.

Of course, James Desborough, who has been painted as the great 'smut-peddler' villain of the RPG world by the Regressive Left RPG Division, has never, ever, written anything even remotely as extreme as Maid.

But because Maid was NOT written by Desborough, and was instead translated and published by a beloved leader-figure of the Forge/Storygames movement, the game is 'stunning and brave' instead of sick disgusting misogyny proof-of-rape-culture whatever etc. etc.

It proves what a gang of hypocrites the Regressive Leftists are. Content doesn't matter, all that matters is which team you're on.  Desborough writes games that are regular RPGs, and he's a militant rationalist-atheist type who has dared question the appeals to emotion used by the Outrage Brigade and their constant and singular proposed solution of handing control and censorship powers to a small group of self-determined elites, so he is a sick pervert who must be stopped.  But the sick fucks over at Storygames can feel free to write and/or promote RPGs featuring sexual acts Desborough would never touch, and they are just being Sophisticated Artists, because they're part of the special club of self-determined elites who want a Central Planning Committee to rule the hobby and punish the old-school gamers for their sins against inclusion.  They're on the right team, the team that wants the Outrage Brigade in power; and Desborough is not.

And mind you, for my example, I picked someone that you could legitimately point out makes very slightly racy RPGs (again, nothing anywhere remotely close to the likes the 'child slave in a see-through uniform being violated with a broomstick' example from Maid, just more like a Benny-Hill Sexy-Party type of smut). But the Outrage Brigade just uses him as low-hanging fruit; they don't actually need anything like that to try to drive out their ideological opponents. It's convenient for them when there is that, but if there isn't, they'll just lie.   Remember kiddies: I wrote an RPG about culturally-accurate Indian Mythic History, and put the first ever transgender heroic character on the cover of an RPG, and they STILL spent months claiming I was a racist and a transphobe.

It's all a fucking shell game of empty hypocrisy. And the good news is, the enormous backlash on Twitter against the stupid fucking hashtag is a sign that the Mushy Middle finally isn't falling for it. They've figured out the trick, and they know that these claims that it's just about making people be nice are really a shallow power grab, and the accusations (often repeated over the recent history of the #NotAtMyTable hashtag by increasingly desperate Regressive Leftists) that if you dare question their campaign it must mean you are a pro-bullying racist sexist bigot yourself has finally been seen through as a pathetic scare tactic.

It's 2016, bitches, and the hobby isn't falling for your crap anymore. Time to run and hide, your scam is up.  Tell your comrades that the Pundit is coming and his Proxy Army is back in town.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Solitario Horn + Argento Latakia

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Wild West Update: Calamity!

Today we had a fairly short session. One of the players had to deal with a case of mistaken identity: the Mormon Gambler is apparently a perfect doppleganger of a big-time cattle rustler and train robber from the southwest, who's currently in hiding. He found this out in a very comedic situation where one of his henchmen was completely convinced the Gambler was actually his boss in deep cover.

But the main attraction of tonight's adventure was none other than her:

Yes, Calamity Jane came riding into Dodge.

She was hot on the trail of the coward who'd shot her lover, Wild Bill Hickok.  And true to her name she brought sheer calamity with her, getting drunk, causing fights, and shooting up half the town.  The PCs were kept quite busy having to chase her around Dodge, keeping her out of trouble, while trying to figure out if Crooked Nosed Jack McCall (Wild Bill's killer) was really around, and also trying to figure out what to do about the criminal who mistook a tee-totaling Mormon for one of the great gang leaders of the west.

The situation ended up solving itself, when the criminal in question mistakenly thought that Jane and one of the PCs were coming for him (when they were actually looking for McCall), and got into a shootout where Jane (in spite of being three-bottle drunk) managed to shoot him fatally in the thigh.  It turned out McCall had already gotten the hell out of Dodge, and so Jane continued off on his trail; with everyone feeling quite relieved that her whirlwind stay in town was mercifully brief.

If any lessons were learned, it was once again that not all Wild West legends were quite what their stories made them out to be. Wyatt Earp confessed to one PC that he'd actually gotten into very few real gunfights in his career, and that the most important trait for a good lawman wasn't being able to shoot well, but the art of intimidation and a talent for giving a good pistol-whip.  And Calamity Jane was certain a disaster worthy of her title, but her talent too lay more with alcoholic recklessness and brash shock-value than careful aim (though she was as great a tracker as her history made her out to be, and a pretty good nurse to boot).


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Poker + Rattray's Old Gowrie

Saturday, 21 May 2016


Well, this has been a hilarious Twitter hashtag, started when some of the Outrage Brigade decided that certain types of gamers would no longer be welcome at their table.  You know, in the name of 'inclusion' and 'diversity'.

Because I'm running a game in a half-hour, here's some of my top tweets on it:


Currently Smoking: Neerup Billiard + Image Latakia

Friday, 20 May 2016

Classic Rant: Three Sources of Awesomeness

People have, over the years, made much of the nature of D&D as a game where you start out very weak, and end up very powerful. Perhaps because of D&D's influence, many other games tend to follow this same format; but I believe it's not just due to D&D's influence, but also to the nature of such a game at creating a system where you can play a long-term campaign that doesn't get boring quickly, thanks to the game over time mutating into different styles based on the growing power level. It could also be said that this encourages player satisfaction as they watch their characters grow mighty.

You could call this structure of system the "awesomeness through experience" model. But its not the only model out there.

There are three ways for a PC to be (or become) awesome: through talent, through training, or through experience. In fact, every successful game will combine these three elements. D&D, for example, has "talent" in the form of base ability scores, which reflect how powerful a character's raw potential is. It has "training" in the form of starting Class and abilities. And "experience" in the form of the level system.

Other games begin with other considerations. Palladium's system is often considered to be a mere D&D-clone (albeit a fairly heavily house-ruled one). But in fact, it begins with rather a different premise. "Talent" is considered important in Palladium only if characters demonstrate extreme giftedness (having an attribute of 17 or higher). "Experience" is still important, in that a character grows as they gain in level, but the curve is much much more shallow than in D&D. A 1st level D&D character has virtually no chance of defeating a 15th level D&D character, but a 1st level Palladium character stands an outside chance of defeating a 15th level Palladium character.
In the Palladium system, the most centrally important model is "Training"; that is, the starting class skills and abilities (and in the case of many of its games, the gear) that a 1st level character receives. 1st level Palladium characters start out already considerably more powerful than their D&D equivalents.

In designing an RPG, I think its important to keep in mind how you would want to distribute the spread between talent, training and experience in terms of what is most important. I think that the reason some licensed settings seem to fit perfectly with certain systems, while others not so much, is because of this issue; if the basic genre of the license matches the basic assumptions of the game system in terms of how characters are awesome, then the result will be good. This is also why superhero games in particular are not very suited to the D&D-style model. In the superhero genre, talent and training are usually much more important than experience.

So likewise, one could say that its important to consider this factor of the different ways to model awesomeness when you are choosing which system to use to run your campaigns.


(Originally Posted December 9, 2010)